Comments: Larry Sanger: "An open letter to Jimmy Wales"

Lest we forget, there was some repeated off-shore shelling, softening up the beaches for Sanger's big landing:

(And, no, that editor wasn't me.)

Posted by Gregory Kohs at April 16, 2009 04:21 PM

Hmmm, so what is your definition of the word "co-founder"? I think the fact that Larry was Jimmy's employee indicates he wasn't a founder in the *usual* sense of the word. Certainly if this was a commercial project he would be regarded as "employee number one" or a "founding employee" rather than as a co-founder, and although the actual founder(s) might choose to label him a co-founder some of the time, I'm not sure if that morally binds them to affirm he was a co-founder in the future.

Jimbo certainly appears to be in the wrong in some of his statements. But I think the fact that Larry now heads a competing encyclopedia project and that there is clearly some personal animosity between the two is probably more responsible for his attitude than his desire to boost his personal fortune via Wikia. I guess it's hard to tell.

Here's one question that I think might be pertinent: Once Larry was no longer being paid by Jimmy, did he volunteer to continue being "Chief Organizer" for Wikipedia and get rebuffed? Or did he go onto other things, and then eventually decide to fork Wikipedia and go into direct competition with his old boss?

Posted by Seth Wagoner at April 16, 2009 11:23 PM

Hmmm. At least as of this moment in time, appears to cover the history quite nicely, and at least in my opinion, the truth *is* "in the middle" as you put it, in that it seems fair for Larry to claim he's a co-founder, and it also seems fair for Jimbo to claim that he wasn't. It all depends on how you define "co-founder", which isn't a word that currently has an objective definition - at least, not in my opinion.

It does seem to me that Jimbo would be better off engaging with the issue than avoiding it, but, meh, is it really worth worrying about?

Given that the issues appear to be explained from a NPOV on that page, and that on Jimmy's own page it currently says, right up near the top;

"Together with Larry Sanger and others, Wales helped lay the foundation for Wikipedia, a free, open-content encyclopedia launched in 2001, which subsequently enjoyed rapid growth and popularity.[8][9] As Wikipedia's public profile grew, Wales became the project's promoter and spokesman.[10] Wales has been historically cited as the co-founder of Wikipedia but he disputes the "co-" designation,[11] asserting that he is the sole founder of Wikipedia.[12]"

...I just don't see where the *news* (or even exciting gossip) is that Valleywag or others should supposedly be reporting on here.

Posted by Seth Wagoner at April 16, 2009 11:57 PM

@Seth Wagoner: I would say that the *news* is that this guy who has financially profited from an image of being the great leader of the world's largest collection of "verifiable" information, has built this reputation on a series of lies and diversions. The news loves a hypocrite (see Eliot Spitzer, e.g.).

I mean, really. Has Larry Sanger ever asked his minions in an IRC chat room to begin calling him "Sole Founder" of Wikipedia? The hubris would crush any but the most comically narcissistic man.

If a reputable news organization really took off the gloves and did the piece on Jimmy Wales that looked at the FACTS, not the MYTH, it would be a ratings blockbuster.

Posted by Gregory Kohs at April 24, 2009 03:07 PM